Thursday, September 26, 2013

Creativity In Photography

Sailboat Race - Oxnard, California
After posting two days ago You Need Photographic Vision, which is a follow up to Photographic Vision - What It Is And How To Get It, I was asked a question. It is based on my definition of photographic vision: a vivid and imaginative conception.

The question goes something like this: "I understand that conception is a fancy word for idea, and that a vivid idea is one that you can clearly see in your mind. But how does one get an imaginative idea?"
Three Green Leaves - Tehachapi, California
The question is one of creativity. How does one become creative? Some people seem to be naturally creative, while others really struggle with the concept. I'm in the latter category.

I remember being in Photography 101 in college, viewing the prints from fellow students and being amazed. Not only was I amazed at what they were creating, but amazed at the gap between their work and my own. I lacked vision, specifically the imaginative aspect of it.
Curves - Stallion Springs, California
Creativity can be learned. It is something that takes practice, and the more one does it, the more natural it becomes. If one struggles with creativity, the great news is that you don't have to. So let's look at what one must do in order to become creative.

First, in order to be creative, one must think like a child. Adults are logical thinkers. Adults like order. Adults have preconceived notions. Children are not that way. Children don't have the experiences yet that tell them there are limitations. They have not yet been told "you can't do this, you can't do that" and "you shouldn't do this, you shouldn't do that." Creative people must channel that inner child.
Pathway To The Soul - Tehachapi, California
Next, in order to be creative, one must realize that there is no reality. Albert Einstein said, "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Understanding this, there are no limits to what one can create. Reality is whatever you make it, so how do you want reality to be in your photographs? Whatever it is you want it to be, you have the ability to make it so.

Third, in order to be creative, one must steal. This may seem outrageous, but, quoting Einstein again, "Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." Austin Kleon explains how to steal like an artist. You should be taking what you like from this person, and from that person, and from that other person, shaking it all together with a bit of yourself, and making art. Those people you borrowed from took those ideas from someone else. No one is truly original.
Joshua Tree Leaves At Sunrise - Palmdale, California
Also, in order to be creative, one must have limitations. Limitations improve art because it forces you to be creative or fail. Pablo Picasso said, "If you have five elements available use only four. If you have four elements use three." Force yourself to be limited by something--anything--whenever you photograph.

Finally, in order to be creative, one must be the man who came back. When you revisit a subject, you are given the great opportunity to do it better, to create a stronger photograph. When faced with the opportunity to re-photograph a subject, you will not likely create the same image, but one with a refined vision. You can build on your previous creativity by making small improvements, or you can interpret the scene in an entirely different way. Either way, you must be imaginative or you'll walk away with an identical photograph to what you already have.
My Heart or My Grave? - Tehachapi, California
Creativity takes practice. It takes experimenting. It takes failure. It takes perseverance. But you can be a creative photographer if you want to be. You can be an artist photographer.

It is important to not give up and to never stop having fun. If you find yourself bored with your photography, try something new, something different. Keep moving forward and you'll be surprised at what you create.
Wave And Three Rocks - Pismo Beach, California

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